I had a conversation with up and coming Brooklyn rapper Lerix about his new project Dinner With Jack Donaghy, concerning what it’s like to be a rapper from Brooklyn who breaks the cliché image often associated with the borough.
Lerix made an impact on the underground hip-hop scene following the release of 2009’s It’s A (w)rap Again!. Since then he has released another EP, performed at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival as well as South By Southwest, and now is preparing to release his most ambitious record yet, Dinner With Jack Donaghy.
James Miller: First off, how are you doing today?
Lerix: Not bad man, not bad. Even though it’s becoming fall and will soon be winter, I’m not a fan of winter, but whatever.
J: I feel the same way moving up here from Tennessee. Could you tell us a little bit about Lerix, who is he and what he represents to the hip-hop community?
L: I’m a hip-hop musician from Brooklyn, New York. I fell in love with hip-hop at a young age. I try to put out good music that not only reflects what I’ve learned coming up but also tries to push it forward. A casual hip-hop fan and a hardcore hip-hop fan can both benefit, there’s something they can both get in to. I try to make music that will bridge the gap.
J: Your music, as you say you try to bridge the gap, has a lot of diversity to it. Just looking through your blog posts you always have references to Futurama, Comic Books and Jack Donaghy. How do you combine your interests with hip-hop?
L: You know, it’s honestly just about being true to who you are. For a long time when I first was starting out, I was trying to be a ladies man because LL Cool J is a big influence, but it doesn’t necessarily fit. So I just started to go with what works with me and put my interests out there, what I’m really in to. People really started picking up on it. People notice that I’m honest; being vulnerable is the hardest part about being a musician. Now the secret’s out and people know that I’m just a big geek!
J: Growing up in Brooklyn, there’s a huge hip-hop community. Who is your biggest Brooklyn influence? Beyond Brooklyn, what is your biggest influence?
L: The biggest influence to my music on the musical end would probably be a split between Biggie and Jay. Even though those guys represented a particular lifestyle that I didn’t live, it’s still something you see around you and you absorb it for what it is. They were able to do the street stuff and do the mainstream stuff and still be very lyrical with it. Outside of that, I know it sounds corny, but just life in general. From what people say on the train or just walking down the street to comic books and video games, it all gets absorbed and one way or another becomes a song. Even the great shows that I watch – I am somehow able to twist it and manipulate it into something that I can use.
J: So with your eclectic style and ability to twist your interests together, when you look for producers, do you look for something different each time? Your style is not the traditional Brooklyn sound, so what’s your process selecting beats?
L: I’m a huge fan of Daft Punk and hopefully someday, knock on wood, I can work with them. When I pick beats it has to be something that captures a mood, and then from that mood I just listen to the beat and let it tell me what it’s about. From there, I just start writing to it.
J: You have a new release coming out Dinner With Jack Donaghy. How did you pick him as the character for your new album?
L: He’s one of my favorite characters on television. Jack Donaghy is a caricature of a business man, an over-the-top business man as much as you can find it. In the music industry, and even in the entertainment industry, people are caricatures; even Lerix is a caricature. I just pictured if I was to sit down and have dinner with anyone and talk about different things, so this album is like sitting down with an extreme caricature and throwing ideas back and forth.
J: Would you actually have dinner with Jack Donaghy?
L: Hell yeah. I’d be all over it.
J: For the new record are there any new producers, collaborations, or anything else we should be looking out for? In your past records, you haven’t really had a lot of guests. Will this record stay mostly just Lerix?
L: This one is mostly just Lerix again, because in the beginning it’s important for an artist to really develop what his sound is. If you get three or four artists on track, and I’m not well known, people get confused and say, wait a minute, which one was Lerix? I think once people get used to my style and flow it will be easy to collaborate. With Dinner With Jack Donaghy, it’s still just an EP, just 10 or 12 songs. As far as producers, real dope, it’s pretty much the same guys again: Brave star, Stompbox music, and just up and coming producers that make the sound that I like to hear, you know just real electronic and mellow stuff.
J: Besides Dinner For Jack Donaghy is there anything else you’ve got planned in the near future? Videos, tours, etc?
L: Yeah, definitely a bunch of videos. I’m actually starting to write short skit videos, I’m not sure if I’ll actually be in them, but just short comedy stuff. Sometimes I just get caught up in the work of it and I just gotta go back to the basics and just write. At the end of the day I’m a writer at heart, whether it’s music or whatever.
J: Thanks for coming and talking to the Daily Free Press. Any last shout outs?
L: Yo, just big shout out to all my fans and supporters, stay with me. Dinner With Jack Donaghy is gonna be dope. Shout out to the Great Mind Click, they know who they are. Talk to you guys soon.
J: All right, thanks a lot. Look out for Dinner With Jack Donaghy everybody!
More information about Lerix can be found here